Republicans Need a Hero
by D. M. Manes
Friday, September 11, 2009 at 12:49 PM EDT
President Obama is the Democratâ€™s hero. Not only is he the popularly elected president of the United States, but he is also a talented, intelligent, and articulate leader. Since both parties are such big tents, people tend to use the heroes of the party to define it. Obama gives powerful definition to the Democratic Party. The hero of a party is the person who embodies the most valued characteristics of the party and who represents it to the country.
Who is the hero for the Republican Party? There isnâ€™t one. The last real hero was George W. Bush, but his popularity and hero efficacy sank abruptly after his reelection in 2004. John McCain had the potential to be the Republican hero. He was widely admired by centrists and even Democrats. But his moderate image failed to resonate with his own partiesâ€™ base, and at the same time, he was dragged to the right which damaged his wider reputation. When he lost the election by millions of votes, he lost the potential to be the Republican hero.
It isnâ€™t reasonable to expect the non-presidential party to have a single hero with as much power as the president. No Republican will be able to assume moral leadership over that party in the same way that Obama does with the Democratic Party. However, effective non-presidential leaders have emerged before. Tip Oâ€™Neil, Newt Gingrich, and Nancy Pelosi (to a lesser extent) all represented their party during times when it did not control the White House.
Since Obamaâ€™s election, Republicans have fragmented into several groups following multiple potential heroes. Unfortunately for them, none of the hero-wannabes who have recruited followings and grabbed headlines in the past eight months are viable long-term political leaders for the Republican Party.
Instead of speaking with (at least somewhat) united voices, Republicans have been represented on the national stage by a hodge podge of ineffective politicians and ideologues.
Numerous other individuals may not intend to represent their party as heroes, but inadvertently do so by dominating headlines.
Perhaps Republicans will find their hero and their voice in their 2012 presidential candidate. The country would certainly be better served by a reasonable opposition party than by a laughably ineffective minority that exists now. One of the biggest problems that will result from letting so many wild elements of the party gain control now is that it will make it harder for a reasonable centrist leader to emerge in 2012. McCainâ€™s failure to bring in the more staunchly conservative elements of his party demonstrates a much deeper problem and one that will haunt GOP politicians in coming elections.
This article originally appeared on Political Cartel.